When all seems broken.

A few nights ago, I got into a Facebook disagreement with a friend of a friend over the Syrian refugee crisis. I took offense to his comments which I found intolerant and ill-informed and we (respectfully) engaged in an exchange which unfortunately culminated in a response which was both chauvinistic and patronizing toward me. I chose to end the discussion there; I’d already said what I wanted to say and nothing gets accomplished when name calling enters in.

I left the conversation feeling hopeless and, frankly, pissed. I am all for the difference in opinions, but this week it’s felt like fear has completely taken over rational thinking in our country which means fear has also trumped the need to back up an opinion with any type of credible source. The prejudice, the racism, the xenophobia has been on high alert and I have been horrifically transfixed by the onslaught of distasteful posts on social media.

So I handled my anger the way I often do: I took to words. I typed a retort I was all ready to post as my status, all ready to tweet. It wasn’t going to be visible to this friend of a friend because I wasn’t responding to him. Yet I still needed an outlet for my feelings of having been belittled and hurt so, in passive-aggressive retaliation, I strung together a collection of words which eloquently put my irritation into prose. I was all ready to post and then…

I couldn’t.

I just couldn’t.

Earlier that night I’d cried to Ryan because some of my 7 year old students are going through some terribly heavy life experiences. I’d cried at the absence of hope and compassion on social media. And I recognized, finger hovering over that ‘post’ button, how I was about to throw my own bitterness out into that mess.

So I let it go. I convinced my little sister, always my defender, to let it go when she texted that she’d seen the exchange and wanted to throw in her own eloquently worded response.

It was so hard. SO HARD. I wanted to put my hurt on display because it seemed like the best way to release the frustration I was feeling. That one flippant comment directed at me had grown to represent the multitudes I was up against and I felt ill equipped to combat them. Words, on the other hand, serve as my sword, my shield, and my salve, and in this instance I wanted to wound in response to the repeated gashes I’d been reading all week. It made me want to hurt out of exasperation and hopelessness.

And yet, in deleting that post, I also felt strangely better. I’d been given the choice to release more bitterness into the atmosphere and I chose not to. Even though I wasn’t aiming my comments directly at someone. Even though my words didn’t seek a response. Even when I didn’t want to and even when I had to convince myself of it again later in the day, I chose to forgive and move up and on. I defended my beliefs, I spoke with respect, and even though it was hard, I CHOSE TO SPEAK LIFE. I had to let the rest go.

So get mad. There are many things worthy of anger right no

Find your voice. Stand up for what you believe in.

Do these things, but do so by speaking words of life into a world filled with death and brokenness. Do so by stopping yourself before your words cease stating your opinion and begin degrading or dehumanizing. When we respond to fear and anger with more of the same, we’re perpetuating a cycle of hopelessness.

I don’t want to perpetuate hopelessness. There’s enough of that going around.

I don’t want to speak more pain into an already hurting world, even if my initial intent is to bring justice. It isn’t bringing justice to speak against intolerance by feeding the same vitriol through my own lips. Deleting that post was difficult and a part of me wishes I’d still posted it, but I’m okay with it. I picked the tougher choice, but it was the right one and for that, in a world swirling with negativity, I’m learning to be okay with covering just a small bit of the hate with grace and peace. I can’t fix it all and I can’t change the mindsets of the masses, but I can choose my words wisely and I’ll go down fighting for the side of grace and peace.

 

It is hard not to feel better about life with a double rainbow, the larger of which actually doubled over on itself and started its color pattern over again. Costco and rainbows. That was my reward for shutting my mouth today...

It is hard not to feel better about life with a double rainbow, the larger of which actually doubled over on itself and started its color pattern over again. Costco and rainbows. That was my reward for shutting my mouth today…

 

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